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Studies show seat belt use in Yakima County is well below state average

Studies show seat belt use in Yakima county is well below state average.

YAKIMA, Wash.- It only takes a couple of seconds to buckle your seat belt, but it can save your life when you least expect it.

“You have to be out driving knowing that you're not only in control of your car, but you have to be aware of the dangers that come toward you as well,” Charlotte Layman with the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission said.

The commission recently did a study to see how often people use their seat belts.

It said about 95 of the people in Washington always use their seat belt.

However, when you break it down by county, Yakima County had the lowest rate at 87 percent.

Compared to Benton County at 93 percent and Kittitas at 97 percent.

“As somebody that may be hearing those stats for the first time, you're thinking oh that's only 10 percent. It's huge. It's absolutely huge,” Layman said

The traffic safety commission is currently working with local law enforcement agencies to get more eyes on the road.

Washington State Patrol, the sheriff’s office and local police departments are all working together across Washington state.

“That means there will be an extra 150 law enforcement agencies out on the roadway looking for this violation,” Trooper Chris Thorson said.

Thorson with state patrol said they wrote over 30,000 tickets for seat belts in 2017 alone.

He said some people don't think they're going to get caught, but it's one of the things troopers are trained to look out for.

“It's pretty easy to see the front two occupants in the vehicle are wearing their seat belts or not, because we can see the belt coming across their chest or extended from behind,” Thorson said.

Layman said there are more cars on the road this time of year because of the weather and Memorial Day.

So, buckling up when you first get in your car is the easiest way to keep you safe when you're driving around.

“The distraction is not there, like with your phone. You don't need to worry about getting a designated driver. It's really just your seat belt. It's already in your car,” she said.

Layman said law enforcement will also be looking out for people who are wearing their seat belts as well.

She said you might get handed tickets to a local Pippins game as a way to reward you for doing good.

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